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Vancouver’s Great Blue Herons

Photo: Jeannine Johnstone/SPES

Stanley Park is home to one of the largest urban Pacific Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini) colonies in North America. They have been nesting at their current location near 2099 Beach Avenue since 2001 and have been documented nesting in various other locations in Stanley Park as far back as 1921. Today, sightings of these majestic birds in and around the Park are commonplace.

Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere and these birds are classified as a species at risk in BC. This subspecies of heron does not migrate. As they have difficulty finding undisturbed habitat and nesting sites, their population has declined across the province. Some colonies, including the Stanley Park heronry, have become accustomed to the presence of humans, but this is rare as human disturbance commonly causes birds to abandon their nesting areas. Raccoons, owls and bald eagles are natural predators of the eggs and young.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society has been monitoring the heronry in Stanley Park since 2004 and has worked with the Vancouver Park Board and the Canadian Wildlife Service to support herons in their urban environment.  The creation of a Stanley Park great blue heron management plan was a giant step towards the successful management of this species.

Navigate our helpful pages on information and resources around this colony:

Adopt a Heron NestFor $54, you may symbolically adopt a heron nest to support their conservation. Register one in your name, as a gift, or in honour of a loved one!
Stanley Park Heron CamA live-streaming camera was set up by the Vancouver Park Board in 2015 and has since treated us to the best views of the herons’ milestones and daily antics. Sneak a peek—though the camera is only live during the breeding season (March-August).

Frequently Asked QuestionsLet us answer your burning questions about the colony, heron biology, their conservation status, and more.
Fun Facts Read more amazing facts on this characteristic bird. These may come in handy at your next trivia night.
Breeding Season TimelineHow does a heron colony progress through the breeding season? What does a heron chick “glow-up” look like? Find out right here, with lots of cool pictures.
History of Stanley Park’s Herons Stanley Park has been valued real estate for heron families for at least the last century, but they didn’t always nest near the tennis courts. Get an historical look into the Park’s colonies through the years.
Film: “Flying Dinosaurs in the City” Local filmmaker, biologist, and SPES volunteer Maria Morlin shares an intimate look at herons of the Lower Mainland in this 55-minute documentary.